High-dose flu vaccine could save B.C. seniors’ lives: advocate

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An influenza outbreak in Australia that has killed over 400 people is prompting calls to make high-dose flu vaccines more widely available to seniors in British Columbia.

Daniel Fontaine, CEO of the BC Care Providers Association, is urging long-term care and assisted living homes to have the stronger flu shot as an option this season.

“When you’re 88, 89 years old and your immune system is already compromised, it can be fatal if you catch the flu,” he says.

70 per cent of those hospitalized for the flu are seniors and they account for 90 per cent of those who die of the illness in Canada, statistics say. Experts are concerned Canada could face something similar to Australia’s outbreak this year.

RELATED: Access to health care for people 55+ better in B.C. than other provinces: poll

Fontaine says the high-dose vaccine is more effective at keeping seniors healthy and out of the hospital.

“The current influenza vaccine, which is meant for more of a younger population with a stronger immune system – it doesn’t always work for seniors, in particular seniors in care, living in kind of a congregate setting,” he says.

“We’re hearing just anecdotally from our directors and our members that there are a number of them that do not offer the high-dose vaccination.”

The vaccine, which is not covered by the province, costs about $75 per dose.

“The high-dose flu vaccine is our best shot at keeping seniors safe and out of hospital,” Fontaine adds.

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